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MONUSCO to withdraw from DR Congo after 25 years

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The UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo has signed a withdrawal plan for its troops in the country, after 26 years of peacekeeping. 

Without offering details about a timeline, in a statement, the peacekeeping mission, known as Monusco, said that it had “co-signed a note on the accelerated, gradual, orderly and responsible withdrawal” from the country. The first phase of the troop withdrawal is due in December.

The announcement comes after the DR Congo President said in September that his country wanted the 25-year-old mission to withdraw. 

After Monusco’s departure, the United Nations system will continue to support the development efforts of the Congolese government and people to perpetuate the achievements in terms of peace and security, the statement said.

For the past two years, Monusco has faced demonstrations over its failure to end decades of insecurity in eastern DR Congo, which is home to over 130 armed groups.

Monusco is one of the world’s largest and costliest UN peacekeeping missions, with an annual budget of around $1 billion. As of February 2023, MONUSCO had 17,753 personnel, including over 12,000 troops and some 1,600 police officers.

Peacekeepers have been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1999 but militia violence has continued to plague the east of the country.

Failed mission

Experts say despite being one of the longest and most expensive UN missions, Monusco has done little to help the Congolese people get peace. 

In July 2022, Monusco faced a wave of demonstrations targeting its personnel, premises, and assets, which prompted President Felix Tshisekedi to request the re-evaluation of the joint transition plan, agreed upon in 2021 by his government and the UN system to advance the mission’s withdrawal from the country.

Experts have observed that the performance of the UN Mission in the DR Congo can be assessed based on many facts but even one is enough and that is the Security Council resolutions voted to deal with the terrorist FDLR group. 

The FDLR, a UN-sanctioned terrorist group that was created and is controlled by elements linked to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, was recently announced to have parted ways with DR Congo’s army. 

The decision followed months of calls from regional and international organizations to end its collaboration with the FDLR, especially in the ongoing war with the M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said MONUSCO’s “final departure would coincide with the full assumption by the Congolese authorities of their primary responsibility to protect civilians and the deployment of sufficient national armed forces and national police to maintain a secure environment for civilians at risk.”

Guterres warned that a “premature withdrawal” of MONUSCO could put civilians at risk. He said the UN and MONUSCO “would continue to support the implementation of existing security sector

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